Elizabeth Jane Weston
By Erin Naillon
Elizabeth Jane Weston was one of the most remarkable women to have made a name for herself in Bohemia.
Weston was English. She was born in Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, in 1581. Her mother was named Jane Cooper. Her father’s name is no longer known, but her stepfather made quite a name for himself; he was Edward Kelley, conman extraordinaire and self-proclaimed alchemist and astrologer.
When Kelley was invited to Prague by Emperor Rudolph II, he brought Jane, Elizabeth, and her brother Thomas with him. Though Kelley was no blood relation to Elizabeth or Thomas, he educated them in grand style – this, at a time when an educated woman was regarded with the deepest suspicion. Elizabeth was fluent in English, Latin, Italian, German, and Czech, and she wrote Latin verses. Her poetry made her popular with Rudolph, and she was a member of his court, where she was known as “Westonia”.
In 1603, Elizabeth married; five years later, a book of her poems was published (another rarity for that time). She died in childbirth in 1612, the same year as her former patron. St. Thomas’ Church, tucked away on a side street in Malá Strana, contains her final resting place. Ironically, it is not far from her stepfather’s former stargazing tower.